Thank You, Arizona 3-Day!

Arizona Day 1

The Susan G. Komen 3-Day® in Arizona this past weekend was much more than sunshine and good memories. It was a time for many to heal from personal loss, and it was a time to triumph over the past. For many, it was the first time that a Komen 3-Day had been attempted…and conquered. The 60-mile course started off with a beautiful pink sky on Friday morning, November 8 with the sounds of excitement and the booming voice of Dr. Sheri: “Let yourself be present, every step of the way!” The Survivors’ Circle made up of breast cancer survivors led the way out onto the streets of Gilbert, Arizona where the local fire department was already waiting to cheer them on! The day’s 19.1 miles passed quickly as groups such as Bright Beginnings Elementary School came out to cheer (and in their case, sing!) for the walkers. The city of Chandler welcomed the sea of pink walkers with pop-up cheering stations and firefighters of their own.

Arizona Day 3

The participants finished the day with the cheerleaders and band from Desert Foothills High School welcoming them into camp at Benedict Park in Tempe. After dinner and some relaxation in the Bank of America massage chairs, walkers and crew enjoyed a camp show which included the fabulous local entertainers, the Sun City Palms. Bonny D gave a touching survivor speech that evening, and a special award, the Milestone Award, was given to Karen Kay Rush for her ten years of dedication to the 3-Day with countless time spent and with over $70,000 raised personally. Thank you, Karen!

Arizona Day 1

“Day 2 is always the most difficult!” said one walker as she lined up for the opening of the route on Saturday. “We’ve started to get some blisters, and we know we’ve still got tomorrow.” The streets of Tempe and Phoenix received a serious dose of pink on Saturday as the banners were snatched up in camp and carried the 20 miles through the streets. The heat couldn’t beat the great attitude of the walkers and crew, however, and they were all cheered on by a New Balanced-sponsored cheerleading team at Pit Stop 2, the famous Sun Devil Fire and Alarm cheering station, and the elementary students from Kryene de las Lomas. Besides the incredible full drum set across from Pit Stop 3, the communities on Day 2 were wonderfully kind, cheering on the participants and handing out water and treats as the weather heated up. Back at camp, the crowd was serenaded by the classy a cappella group “Priority Male” and Chrystine H and Justine P gave speeches that will not be forgotten soon.

Arizona Day 3

The final day of the Arizona 3-Day is always one of excitement and reflection. The 16-mile route for the day was dotted with community support, and the walkers were even treated to the Emerald Society Bagpipes who walked a portion of the early course before serenading the participants after Pit Stop 1. Scottsdale was as supportive as ever with some young saxophonists welcoming them into the old town where a large cheering station lined the shops. Family and friends gathered in Scottsdale Stadium to watch the procession of hundreds and hundreds of walkers and crew members enter the stadium and rededicate themselves to the fight against breast cancer. Thank you, Arizona, for an inspiring weekend!

Arizona Day 3


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Celebrate with Team ‘Las Bombas’

Team 'Las Bombas' gears up for the Arizona 3-Day at Opening Ceremony

Team ‘Las Bombas’ gears up for the Arizona 3-Day at Opening Ceremony

“Celebration!” was the feeling this morning from Jacki, captain of Team ‘Las Bombas,’ a group of 44 women who are walking 60 miles this weekend in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® in Arizona. “I took over this large team on the Arizona 3-Day around 2008,” said Jacki as she readied herself for the last 16 miles of the course this morning. She was surrounded by teammates Amanda, Carolyn, Jerline, Chesha, and Row. Their coordinated outfits were a lovely shade of purple and made them stand out of the crowd, along with their pink flashing hats. Teams of women and men often train, fundraise and then walk together on the grueling 60-mile course that raises money for breast cancer research, treatment, and screening.

Team 'Las Bombas' awaits the opening of the route on Day 3 of the Arizona 3-Day

Team ‘Las Bombas’ awaits the opening of the route on Day 3 of the Arizona 3-Day

Six breast cancer survivors help keep the perspective on the large team, which raised over $70,000 on this event. Walking with women who have survived breast cancer can evaporate thoughts of blisters and joint pain, considering the survivors have gone through much, much worse. “The cheering stations are vital!” said Chesha, who is walking the 3-Day for the first time. “Not just the big ones, but the small ones along the way really keep us going. They were essential yesterday.”

Chesha of Team 'La Bambas' walks through camp on Day 3 of the Arizona 3-Day

Chesha of Team ‘Las Bombas’ walks through camp on Day 3 of the Arizona 3-Day

The team holds an annual golf tournament as a fundraiser, now in its fourth year. There are logos of very supportive sponsors on their outfits, each having sponsored a hole on the course. The rest of the donations have come from individuals, but the team comes together so that every one who wants to walk can participate.

Members of Team 'Las Bambas' start the final day of the route in Arizona

Members of Team ‘Las Bombas’ start the final day of the route in Arizona

“We will be celebrating at the finish line today!” the team agrees as the countdown begins for the route to open. One thing is for sure: Team ‘Las Bombas’ is not going away! “We’re planning on being at other events next year,” exclaimed Jacki as the route opened in Arizona, a beautiful sunrise illuminating a pink sky. “Look for us in other cities as ‘Las Bombas AZ’!”

“I Carry Your Heart With Me”

Poet e.e. cummings penned some of the most memorable lines in a love poem, which a close friend of mine recently read at his wedding. As an artist, my friend found the simple stanza to be worthy of the tribute that he gave to his bride of only a few hours: “i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)” While I have loved the poem myself since I first heard it, I recognized it again in visual form. I am much more accustomed to seeing the poetry of life through a lens, but the marriage of e.e. cummings’ lines met the reality of life this weekend on the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® in Arizona. The memorial of a face, obviously a loved one, was strapped to a dedicated 60-mile walker. The Komen 3-Day asks its participants to fundraise for breast cancer research in exchange for the physically demanding challenge of walking for three days and 60 miles.

Brenda carries images of her mother who passed away from breast cancer when she was 14 years old

I was enlightened suddenly by the scene that I had witnessed from Boston to Seattle and from Atlanta to Arizona. The physical reminder of a loved one who had been affected or who had passed away from breast cancer was literally being carried. It was the act of bringing that person as close as possible to themselves: not only their memory carried in the heart of the walker, but the image, the photograph, the tribute. The photograph of a person is often how we want to remember them, a powerful memoir to have on the journey that will tax them.

John walks out of Opening Ceremony on Day 1 of the Arizona 3-Day, wearing the shirt he has carried over 720 miles on Komen events this year

The walkers will often imprint t-shirts, a particularly poignant similarity to cummings’ lines: “(anywhere i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done by only me is your doing,my darling).” The reminder of a loved one who is battling breast cancer or who has passed is often reviving to a participant on Day 2 when perhaps the heat of the desert starts to drain them emotionally.

Arizona Day 2

In the third stanza, the poet dives deeper into the relationship of his beloved by sharing with the reader “the deepest secret nobody knows” and then referring to this secret as “the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart.” After discussing why people walk the 3-Day over the past thirteen weeks, I have found that there are many “deepest secrets” that only begin to surface as someone explains their relationship to the person for whom they are walking. What they cannot or sometimes do not want to discuss is this relationship of deep love that will always be difficult to express in words.

But they carry them. They carry them deep in their hearts, and the poet finishes his work even more directly than he began: “i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)”.